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HindustanTimes Mon,22 Sep 2014

Money allurement for Bihar, West Bengal in offing

Chetan Chauhan, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, March 25, 2013
First Published: 21:24 IST(25/3/2013) | Last Updated: 07:20 IST(26/3/2013)

The DMK’s pullout from the UPA and the Samajwadi Party’s noises may prove to be an advantage for Bihar and West Bengal — the government is planning to dish out more to the two non-UPA ruled states.

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Bihar CM Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal (U), which has always been a constituent of the BJP-led NDA, and Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress, which left the UPA in a huff in September 2012 following the row over FDI in multi-brand retail, have recently been soft towards the UPA.

The Planning Commission on Monday formalised a special plan — not the special status, as demanded by both — under the Backward Regions Grants Fund for Bihar and Bengal.

The programme covers 272 backward districts of the country -- all districts in Bihar and 12 out of 20 in West Bengal.

A senior planning commission official said the two states could expect a 25-30% hike in central funds. Bihar’s special plan for 2013-14 is likely to be around Rs. 2,000 crore against Rs. 1,500 crore this year.

He said West Bengal would also see a hefty hike in funding. The state witnessed a 22% increase in BRGF in the last budget when the TMC was supporting the UPA.

A senior central government functionary clarified that Kumar’s demand for the special status was not likely to be met. He, however, said the Centre's intention to redefine the method of identifying a backward region – as declared in the last budget – will qualify Bihar and some other states for special allocations.

"The current definition of backwardness is based on being a hilly region or a border area is illogical and, therefore, we are reworking it. We will come out with a new policy in a few months," he said.


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